Zakharova slams Ukraine's decision against priests as 'Satanism'
The 'unorthodox' step by Zelensky comes on Orthodox Christmas, driving Zakharova to call it "Satanism as it is."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's decision to strip 13 priests of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of their Ukrainian citizenship was condemned as 'Satanism' by Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry.
On her Telegram channel, Zakharova wrote, "Volodymyr Zelensky has deprived 13 priests of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of their Ukrainian citizenship," adding, "and this is on Orthodox Christmas! Satanism as it is."
Zelensky, on Saturday, had signed a decree suspending 13 priests of the UOC accused of being in unity with the Moscow Patriarchate.
According to information by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), there has been a series of raids and assaults against UOC churches for alleged Russian affiliation. The SBU claims that "pro-Russian literature and millions in cash," as well as "materials denying the existence of Ukraine" were found in raided churches.
As per the newly signed Ukrainian decree banning the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, several clergies were accused of "high treason, sabotage, and propaganda."
Zelensky approves ban of religious orgs. promoting 'Russian interests'
Zelensky signed an order authorizing the decision of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) on restrictive measures against representatives of religious organizations allegedly connected with Russia to protect national security, the President’s office said on December 2.
"To put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine dated December 1, 2022 On Certain Aspects of the Activities of Religious Organizations in Ukraine and the Application of Special Personal Economic and Other Restrictive Measures (Sanctions)," the order read.
The list of sanctioned organizations has not been revealed yet, however, the document provides that the Ukrainian government will present a bill prohibiting religious organizations allegedly "affiliated with centers of influence in the Russian Federation."
According to the decree, the Security Service of Ukraine, police, and other law enforcement departments have been ordered to strengthen measures aimed at identification and counteraction of "undermining activity" allegedly conducted by the Russian secret service in the religious environment of Ukraine.
Oleksiy Honcharenko, a member of former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s party, European Solidarity, said his party had already submitted a draft bill on banning the Russian Orthodox Church and its affiliates in Ukraine.
Honcharenko explained that if the bill was adopted, all contracts on renting churches, cathedrals, and other monuments with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of the Moscow Patriarchate would be canceled.
Read more: Kirill: Russia, Ukraine are one nation, church persecution 'pathetic'